Editor's pick: House extension lawfulness kafkaesque

In ultimately agreeing with a local authority in Hertfordshire that a rear extension and loft dormer would not be permitted development, an inspector has described the case as being somewhat bizarre and 'kafkaesque' in nature.

The appellant had submitted prior notification of a plan to extend the rear of the semi-detached property by four and half metres under Class A of Part 1 to Schedule 2 of the GPDO 2013. The council had consulted neighbours and determined that a formal planning application was not required. Subsequently, the appellant applied for a LDC confirming that the rear extension was lawful as well as a dormer extension. The council refused to issue a certificate claiming that the amendments to the GPDO in 2013 stipulated that the development must be complete by the end of May 2016. However, it was impossible in determining a LDC to impose a condition stipulating that the rear extension would only be lawful if completed by that date and consequently a certificate had to be denied.

At first glance the situation was bizarre, the inspector decided, because the council had already agreed that the rear extension would be permitted development. Nonetheless, he did accept the council’s claim that the statutory procedures relating to prior notification under the GPDO and whether a development was lawful were materially different. He agreed that a condition could not be imposed on a LDC making it conditional that it would only be lawful on its completion by a specified date. Consequently, on this basis the appeal had to fail.

In so ruling the inspector also decided that there were other reasons why it was not lawful. The use of mineral felt for the roof meant that the materials did not match the existing house, in conflict with the order. In addition, the plans showed a new full-height flue or vent pipe which was specifically prohibited under the order. These changes were different from the design submitted under the prior notification procedure and would have triggered a requirement for a full planning application. The appeal was dismissed.

Inspector: Graham Self; Written representations

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